Long Island Sustainable Winegrowing, Inc. (LISW), a not-for-profit organization that provides education and certification for Long Island vineyards, announced via press release the first vineyards in the eastern U.S. to earn certified sustainable status. Ten vineyards comprising over 400 acres of grapes on the East End of Long Island have been officially designated as “certified sustainable” vineyards for the 2012 vintage: Bedell Cellars, Channing Daughters Winery, Harbes Family Vineyard, Martha Clara Vineyards, One Woman Wines & Vineyards, Palmer Vineyards, Roanoke Vineyards, Sannino Bella Vita Vineyard, Shinn Estate Vineyards, and Wölffer Estate Vineyard.
To earn sustainable farming certification, these 10 vineyards successfully implemented a comprehensive checklist of nearly 200 sustainable grape growing practices that include thoughtful vineyard planning, encouraged and prohibited materials and practices, and numerous ecological management options.
A hallmark of the LISW certification program is the use of a rigorous, independent, third-party inspector: Allan Connell, former District Conservationist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). Mr. Connell used the New York VineBalance Grower Workbook as a roadmap for evaluating sustainable vineyard practices. The VineBalance Workbook, that underpins LISW certification, is recognized and endorsed by the Agricultural Environmental Management Program of the New York State Soil & Water Conservation Committee and New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets.
In addition to the certified sustainable members of LISW, seven other Long Island vineyards joined LISW in 2013 and are “in transition” toward certification in the future. These transitional members are Mudd Vineyards, Sparkling Pointe, Kontokosta Winery, Water Mill Vineyard, Surrey Lane Vineyard, Mattebella Vineyards and Lieb Cellars.
LISW recognizes that social responsibility complements the high quality winemaking and natural beauty already associated with the Long Island wine region. “The announcement of our first certified sustainable vineyards strengthens the ecological leadership and social responsibility of the Long Island wine region,” said Richard Olsen-Harbich, Winemaker at Bedell Cellars. “The effort of creating meaningful, rigorous sustainable farming standards for grape growers proves that Long Island wineries are serious about making world-class wines that are also ecologically sensitive.”
This initiative has a long history of development because many viticultural “best practices” have been finely tuned among the region’s grape growers since the first plantings in 1973. “Over the past 40 years, Long Island vineyard managers have developed unique and safe practices for producing quality wine grapes and have now created the first fully certified, third-party verified sustainable viticulture program in the eastern U.S.,” said Jim Thompson, Vineyard Manager at Martha Clara Vineyards. “I believe these efforts will have a big impact on the public perception of our industry and the results so far are compelling.”
There will be a commemorative celebration on Thursday, June 6, from 6–8 p.m. at Bedell Cellars in Cutchogue, for invited members of the press and New York wine industry.